PHILADELPHIA — Diversity is suddenly the watchword at American symphony orchestras, and it is high time. For decades, one, two, maybe three black musicians have remained the norm in major orchestras (thus 1, 2 or 3 percent of the players), and audience makeup tends to mirror that onstage.
The noblest sustained attempt to remedy such deficiencies has been the Sphinx Organization. It was founded in 1996 in Detroit by the black violinist Aaron P. Dworkin, now the dean of the school of music at the University of Michigan, to advance the careers of gifted young black and Latino string players. The League of American Orchestras finally awoke to the challenge in June, devoting much of its annual conference to the topic of diversity.